California schools hand out iPads to ‘prove’ the Bible with science and history
Some religious schools in southern California are using technology to prepare students to defend their faith against the scourge of “secular roommates” they might encounter in college.
Two Orange County families who wish to remain anonymous have donated $1.5 million to set up an Internet-based program to teach Christian apologetics — a field of theology that uses logic to defend faith — starting in elementary school, reported The Orange County Register.
“Our goal is to revolutionize the way the Bible is taught in Christian schools so kids will be firm in their faith,” said Kim Van Vlear, director of Bible curriculum development at Capistrano Valley Christian Schools. “We want to show why the Bible is true with proven evidence like science, archeology and history.”
Students in 13 elementary classes in private schools in San Juan Capistrano, Fullerton and Georgia are using the DeepRoots Bible Curriculum for Defendable Faith program, but more courses are being developed for students up to 12th grade.
“I like how we can use iPads so we can read and see pictures how it was back then,” said 8-year-old Scarlett Vukich, of San Juan Capistrano.
The program uses a variety of activities to teach students about scripture and biblical philosophies, including salvation, truth and knowledge, and the origins of the universe.
“The curriculum will give students the opportunity to learn, understand and compare and contrast the claims of Neo-Darwinism and the claims of the intelligent design thesis,” said program editor Catherine Waller. “We invite students to follow the evidence where it leads.”
Christian teens are becoming less engaged with their faith as they grow older and encounter tough questions about their beliefs, studies have shown.
“There are so many kids going to college and having their faith rocked by a secular roommate,” Van Vlear said.
A team of 80 people — including archeologists, teachers, graphic artists and musicians — started developing the curriculum nearly three years ago, and the lessons are arranged in chronological order rather than ordered as events are in the Bible.
“Many adults don’t even realize that the Bible jumps around from time to time and era to era, so we want to solidify the order of events in our students’ minds,” Van Vlear said.
But some question whether Christian apologetics is a valid philosophical viewpoint.
“There is no such thing as proof, except in mathematics and logics,” said Aaron James, professor and chair of philosophy at UC Irvine. “It might be a disservice to the students if it (apologetics) is used as a tool of persuasion. One could argue that it would do them better to teach them open critical thinking, like philosophy.”
The theology depends on confirmation bias, the tendency to seek out or interpret evidence to confirm a particular worldview, but school officials say the curriculum is necessary “to maintain cultural relevance.”
“There will be no new discoveries or positions created,” said Mike McAteer, head of school at Mission Viejo Christian School, “but merely taking events and attitudes of our day and bringing a fresh way to address the same questions every generation has: Why was I born? What is my purpose in life? Is there a God who exists? And what happens to me when I die?”